Suit filed against district

Sexual harassment is alleged by a school employee who is now on leave. Action names demoted school official.

June 13, 2007|By Rachel Kane

BURBANK — An administrative secretary on leave from her post at the Burbank Unified School District has filed a lawsuit for an unspecified amount of money against the district, accusing Senior Facilities Director Craig Jellison of sexual harassment.

Danielle Baez alleges in her complaint, filed June 1 in Los Angeles Superior Court, that Jellison repeatedly sent her sexually explicit e-mails beginning in December 2005.

Baez also alleges that Jellison sexually assaulted her in the district's facilities building in late July 2006, locking her in his office and making unwanted advances. She has been on medical leave for emotional distress since March, her attorney, Victor George said.


"Since the attack, she has been receiving therapy and mental health care," George said.

After the alleged harassment reached its peak, Baez felt she could no longer function in the office, he said.

"It's what's called a constructive termination," he said. "The person can't continue working there. So she went on a disability leave."

Jellison, who recently received a pay cut and title change — from chief facilities officer to senior director of facilities — could not be reached for comment.

Burbank Unified Supt. Gregory Bowman declined to comment on whether the changes to Jellison's contract were a result of Baez's allegations.

"[Baez], to my knowledge, had no association with [Jellison]," Bowman said.

In the lawsuit, Baez alleges Jellison sent her the first in a long series of unwanted, sexually suggestive and increasingly explicit e-mails on or around Dec. 16, 2005.

The complaint goes on to allege that Jellison sent an e-mail propositioning Baez for an extramarital affair.

According to the lawsuit, Jellison sent one e-mail that said: "The offer doesn't require participation on your part, theoretically. You could close your eyes and think that it's your husband, even though I would find it very hard to believe you wouldn't notice the difference as I take a lot of pride in what I do."

Baez is asking for restitution for damages due to discrimination and harassment, negligence, battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

Bowman said he could not recall whether Baez had complained to her supervisors or anyone at the district about Jellison's behavior, but said that she had never filed a claim of sexual harassment with the district before filing the lawsuit.

But George said Baez filed a police report in January about the alleged sexual assault.

Burbank Police would not confirm the existence of the report, citing the nature of the alleged crime as the reason.

"The Burbank Unified School District was aware of it and for whatever reason, they have apparently chosen to allow the alleged culprit to continue working there," George said. "We were surprised that he was able to keep his job, although it looks like someone has at least slapped his wrist."

The district has 30 days from the suit's June 1 filing date to respond to the allegations.

Preparation for a trial could take as long as nine months, George said. He and Baez are requesting a trial by jury.

  • RACHEL KANE covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3205 or by e-mail at

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